Authors: Callie Kanno
She felt it starting up her own arm and withdrew her hand from
L’iam’s. He was startled by her sudden movement, but did not protest. He seemed
to understand that she wanted to connect on her own.
Adesina closed her eyes, trying to become more aware of herself
beyond the physical existence. She stood there for several strained minutes
before opening her eyes and looking at L’iam in frustration.
“Why can I not do it?”
He nodded in empathy. “It is difficult to find at first. Close
your eyes again and think of someone you love. Follow the emotion deep into
yourself. It will lead you to your
She obeyed his instructions, anxious to succeed. She studied her
thoughts, searching for someone she loved. To her dismay, she couldn’t think of
There were several people of whom she was fond, but she could not
think of anyone she truly loved. She felt that she should love her family, but
she hardly knew them. She wondered if she loved Signe for raising her, but
found that she felt only a deep respect.
Then she thought of Kendan. She imagined his brilliant smile and
his warm touch. She blocked out the memories of him as her harsh Shar and
focused on the time they had spent together since leaving the fortress. He had
seemed like a completely different person, and he had been eager to show her
that side of him. She remembered how it had felt every time he touched her, or
when he had taken her in his arms and kissed her.
Adesina felt the emotion she had been searching for and quickly
followed it deeper, worried that she would lose its trail. It led to a rarely
used part of Adesina, one that felt repressed and resigned. There she found a
spark that was akin to the warm glow found in L’iam. She touched the spark,
silently asking it to become brighter.
It was as if it had been awaiting this request. It flared to life,
consuming everything in its path. The young Shimat gasped, unable to control
the power she had unleashed.
L’iam hurried forward to take her hand. Using his own
, he helped her to calm the spark
to a more manageable magnitude. It still occasionally flickered in surges of
energy, but it was almost as amenable as L’iam’s.
He gave her a rueful smile. “Your
is still quite untamed. I apologize, I should have warned you
that might happen.” He paused. “It seems to have developed a personality rather
like your own, which is to be expected.”
Adesina merely nodded, not quite trusting her voice at first. She
cleared her throat and spoke quietly. “How long will it take me to be able to tame
His smile broadened. “Not long.”
He let go of her hand, and Adesina tensed for the overpowering
sensation she had experienced before. Instead, the
remained as it was.
“The first rush of conscious
is always the hardest to control. As you get to know your
better, and as it gets to know you, it will get easier.”
She shifted uncomfortably. “You talk about it as if it were a
L’iam inclined his head. “And so it is. You must remember that and
treat it as such.”
With this new perspective, she examined her
again. It did seem more like a being than a thing—a radiating
outline of herself. Adesina wondered what would happen if this almost-person
decided to step outside of her physical being. She shuddered and pushed the
thought out of her mind.
Then she started to experiment. It wasn’t like ordering a servant
to obey or even like wielding a weapon. It was more like working with a
partner—one that was infinitely more powerful than herself.
L’iam sensed her hesitation and gave her a few more tips. “You
must treat your
but remember that you are the master. Be firm but understanding, and soon you
will know each other well enough that you will work together effortlessly.”
She nodded and tried again, this time moving in synchronization
. She tentatively
reached out with her mind and was once again hyperaware of everything around
her. She extended even further and felt as if she could touch worlds beyond her
Adesina pushed harder and suddenly felt herself being yanked
forward. Her surroundings rushed past as if she were flying through the air.
She almost felt sick to her stomach as the sensations of violent motion and not
moving at all assailed her simultaneously.
She came to an abrupt stop and found herself standing in the
Adesina’s eyes widened in disbelief as she saw her mother walking
towards her. She rushed forward impulsively into her mother’s open arms.
E’rian was reluctant to let her daughter go again. “I have missed
“Mother, I kidnapped father and turned him over to the Shimat,”
she blurted guiltily.
Her mother nodded. “Yes, I know.”
Then, as if a cover had been lifted from her mind, Adesina knew
the question that she needed to ask her mother. The question that had brought
both of them to the realm of Dreaming.
“Why did you ask Signe to raise me? Why, if the Shimat are your
enemies? Did you not know that I would become a Shimat as well?”
E’rian’s expression was both sorrowful and pained. Slowly, almost
unwillingly, she held out her slender hand to her daughter. “Take my hand,
Ma’eve. I will show you what I know.”
She was almost afraid of knowing the answer to her questions.
Still, she reached forward and took her mother’s hand.
There was a flash of light and Adesina found herself standing in a
forest. They were just outside of a building that she recognized as the fort
they had left two weeks earlier. A saddled horse was grazing a few feet away
from the door without much success, as it appeared to be early spring and the
grass had barely begun to grow. The light was fading from the sky, painting
everything in rosy tints.
“What is this?” she asked in confusion.
E’rian looked around sadly. “This is one of my memories.”
A high-pitched squeal rang through the quiet forest, bringing the
Shimat around sharply. She saw a small boy run out the front door of the fort,
followed closely by a man. Both were laughing loudly.
She recognized the man as her father, and she could guess the
identity of the small boy. Another figure darkened the doorway. It was her
mother, and it was evident that she was in the early stages of pregnancy.
Her father grabbed the boy and spun him around. When he saw his
wife he stopped, suddenly looking serious.
“E’rian, I would rather you did not go riding alone. Can you not
wait until we begin our journey home?”
She laughed lightly at his concerns. “I need just one hour to feel
completely at ease. One hour, Me’shan, that is all.”
He was still reluctant. Even the exuberant attacks of his son
could not completely distract him. “Well…”
E’rian walked over to the saddled horse before he could protest.
“I will be back soon. Make sure that E’nes has an extra blanket when you put
him to bed.”
Adesina looked again at the boy, seeing traces of her brother’s features
in the cherubic face. She also found herself looking more closely at her
father. He was quite handsome, and seemed much younger than when she had seen
him in the High City. Perhaps it was due to care as well as the years.
She wanted more time to study him, but the memory was moving on.
“I will be back soon, I promise.”
E’rian was riding away. Adesina started after her, but her Dream
mother still held her hand.
“Wait. You do not need to move, for the memory will find us.”
There was a shift in the scenery as they followed the memory
E’rian through the forest.
Adesina was a bit disoriented feeling the change without ever
moving her feet. It felt as if the earth was moving beneath her feet with the
same fluid motion of a river, and she only had to stand firm against its flow.
The memory E’rian rode quickly at first, eager to leave the
shelter of the trees. Once she was out in the open, she slowed her horse to a
steady walk. She looked up at the stars and sighed in satisfaction, as if she
had not seen them in a long time.
She was so enraptured that she did not notice the small band of
men riding through the grassland. They, on the other hand, spotted her quickly
and held a quiet conversation deciding what to do. The leader nudged his horse
forward to intercept the beautiful young L’avan.
“Excuse me, m’lady, are you lost?”
The man was slender and had a thick beard covering half of his
face. Adesina frowned at him, searching her memory to discover why he looked so
familiar. Her thoughts were quickly pulled back to the Dream as she watched the
The woman was startled and looked at the group of men nervously.
“No, I was just on my way home.”
The man looked amused. “There is nothing for miles, m’lady. Surely
you will not get home tonight.”
The other five men moved their horses to surround the L’avan.
Adesina wanted to shout a warning, but she knew it would do no good.
“My husband is not far,” stammered E’rian.
Adesina knew what was coming and could not bear to watch. She
clenched her eyes shut, wishing she could shut out the noise as well. There was
the sound of a struggle and E’rian’s screams, then everything went quiet. When
the observer opened her eyes, she saw that it had also gone dark.
“What happened?” she asked her mother.
“I was taken far away. I remember little of the journey, only that
it took a long time.”
Her daughter forced out the words, “Then what?”
They were in a dimly lit stone dungeon. E’rian’s dress was reduced
to rags and she was covered in blood and dirt. She lay shivering on a pile of
moldy straw, her arms wrapped around her swollen abdomen.
“She is very weak,” commented a cold, calculating voice from the
shadows. Adesina found it disturbingly familiar.
“Yes, but the child will survive. Is that not what you wanted?”
E’rian’s emaciated arms tightened around her stomach.
“Yes, the child will be very valuable. You have done well,
The two voices stepped into the light, revealing their faces to
the Shimat observer and her guide.
“Do not forget your promise, Signe.”
An arctic smile passed over the lips that Adesina knew well. The
lips that had spoken guidance and directed her throughout her childhood. The
lips that had sung lullabies when she couldn’t sleep. The lips that had spun a
web of tales that she had always been so desperate to believe.
“Do not worry, Breyen. The possession of a L’avan child ensures me
the position of Sharifal. Such a gift will not go unrewarded.”
“I want a part in the experiments, Signe. I want a part in the
Signe inclined her head. “I would not entrust it’s training to
There was another shift in E’rian’s memory. It wasn’t a
significant passage of time, but the setting was dramatically different. The
dungeon was filled with the L’avan’s moans of pain, and there was a bustle of
activity around her.
The cry of an infant rent the air and Signe stepped forward
“A girl. She seems healthy enough.”
Signe held out her hands imperiously. “Give it to me.”
“No!” E’rian cried weakly.
The Shimat leader’s face was contorted with a sneer. “Kill the
witch. She has served her purpose.”
A masked guard stepped forward, drawing a knife. The young mother
threw a panicked glance at the dagger and then fixed her gaze on her newborn
daughter, her eyes glowing with
Then, using the last of her life force, she used an old form of magic—her last
resort to protect her daughter from such dangerous enemies.
“Her father will come for her!”
Somehow, Adesina instinctively knew what had happened in that
moment. The declaration was E’rian’s dying breath, but it would create a
connection between father and daughter that would ensure that they would
someday find each other. It would feel like a compulsion to search for the
other, and it would lead them to decisions that would help to reunite their
Adesina could almost see E’rian’s spirit leave her body. The guard
looked disappointed that he had lost the opportunity to kill the “witch” himself,
and Signe looked supremely disinterested. She only had eyes for the infant in
her arms: a weapon waiting to be shaped.
She turned and walked out of the dungeon, leaving the servants to
deal with the corpse.
Adesina was silent.
She hadn’t spoken since she had been pulled into a Dream the
previous night. Ravi and E’nes stayed close to her trying to give her some
emotional support as she grappled with the devastating history she had seen.
They did not ask any questions, which the young woman appreciated.